It just wouldn’t feel like a Friday without some Trump cabinet intrigue so with that in mind, Alex Azar, the former president of Lilly’s U.S. business, has been tipped to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to Bloomberg. If he’s approved, Azar would succeed Tom Price, who resigned from the post amidst fallout over the cost of his extensive use of government travel via military and private jets.
Update On Monday morning, President Donald Trump confirmed Azar as his nominee for HHS Secretary.
Azar also has some particularly relevant experience as deputy Health and Human Services Secretary under George W. Bush from 2005-2007 and general counsel for the department from 2001-2005.
While Azar worked for Lilly USA, insulin prices increased. In January, Lilly along with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi were sued on behalf of a group of patients in Massachusetts Federal Court for allegedly conspiring to drive up the price of insulin in near lockstep. From 2002 to 2013, the price of insulin has nearly tripled, according to a study published in JAMA.
In December 2016, Lilly announced a program to help diabetics obtain insulin at a discount through a partnership with Express Scripts.
Trump has been critical of the drug industry’s pricing practices and has threatened to take action on this issue.
Despite Trump’s efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act by curbing advertising for Open Enrollment, cutting the budgets of insurance navigators who offer decision support for people enrolling in plans, and an executive order ending payments to insurers to help pay for low-income Americans to obtain insurance, open enrollment numbers have soared above signups for last year. Open enrollment is scheduled to end December 12.
Azar offered some faint praise for ACA, as an interview with Bloomberg TV shows.
Azar’s currently a consultant for Seraphim Strategies, where he offers counsel and guidance on the biopharmaceutical and health insurance industries on topics such as marketing, pricing, reimbursement, access, and federal and state healthcare policy.
Photo: Jirsak, Getty Images
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